Startups, Do the Foundational Work: Taking Shortcuts Cut You Short

What drives me crazy is all the crappy advice and articles out there sharing hacks for startup growth. Growth is great but it needs to be built on strong foundations. Speed and a sense of urgency is definitely important.

Yet to really make this work you need to be systematic at the same time. There is a ton of homework to do. This includes Insight development, doing customer development and building. And it takes a long time. Every founder talks about Product Market Fit. But in my experience I’ve never seen a startup hit this Product Market Fit point faster than 2 years. It takes a LONG time to get here.

I can’t tell you how many startups I’ve met who have grown to $100k or $150k in MRR but yet still have no idea who the “Ideal Customer Profile” is, have not set up analytics or which channels work best for them. It’s like driving a car with a blacked out window and without a steering wheel. No surprise this is when the business eventually stops growing and stalls out. Or worse, goes in reverse as customers churn. There is little they can do because these founders have no idea what the drivers of their business are.

I liken building successful startups to that of building Skyscrapers. We had a lot of them being built in Vancouver where I grew up. It would be a year or more while the sand and concrete foundation was being compacted into the ground. But lo and behold, once the sand was removed and the foundation was set, the metal frames went up. Within that next year, an entire 5–10 story building was built and completed.

This is exactly the same process that my best founders go through.

They are systematic.

They do the groundwork of development insights and deep knowledge about their customer and their market.

They learn the main drivers of their business.

Sustainable growth is the consequence.


Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything!